By Simone Roberts, Junior, Corporate Communications major
Each spring, Students for Equity and Diversity (SED) invites a group of motivated freshman and sophomores to participate in the annual Multicultural Leadership Institute. This five week program was designed to give its participants the necessary tools, skills, and experiences to become better and more effective leaders.
“I saw it through Know Events, and I was immediately interested,” said Lindsey Foo, a sophomore majoring in Speech Pathology. “I myself am multicultural, and while being at UT I’ve taken on a role to be an advocate for diversity and bridging different cultures together. I felt like MLI was a great opportunity to be better equipped to be a leader in that respect.”
Starting on January 30th, MLI exposed its participants to a different social justice topic or issue each week. By the end of the program, students had been given the opportunity to meet and listen to several members of different social justice organizations , as well as learn about LBGTQ issues from a skit performed by Queer People of Color and Allies.
When asked what she took away from MLI, sophomore Nursing major Hanna Feduka expressed that she enjoyed getting to see and hear “the many points of views that you can come from when looking at certain situations. I especially enjoyed when QPOCA came. That was my favorite week of MLI- I’d never heard about those issues before.”
The Multicultural Leadership Institute was organized by SED co-chairs Maureen Ezekor and Jelisa Robinson, who put in many hours and worked tirelessly to ensure that the participating students gained as much as possible out of their experience. “Serving as co-chair of this program has been really rewarding,” said Robinson. “I wanted to do it because I wanted to help create a program and a space where people could talk about openly diversity, campus climate, and get involved not only SED but with other students passionate about these issues.” She went on to say “I think it was just a great bonding experience overall- people really bond over the diversity within their experiences.”
At the end of the Institute, the students were able to put their training to great use: In small groups, they held 45-minute informational sessions for prospective UT students and parents during Explore UT, created, prepared, and executed on their own.
“For Explore UT my group presented the topic of “Life as a College Student”” said Foo. “We gave the students and parents a good perspective on how here at UT we work hard but also play hard, and told them that academics are super important, but how you apply what you learn in the classroom is important as well. I specifically talked about how the diversity here at UT really equips you to being more open- minded and having broader perspective.”
By the end of the program, all of the participants received certificates and letters of completion from the co-chairs, as well as a well-rounded experience.
Freshman finance major Christopher Jones had positive words about the institute after Explore UT. “I enjoyed the learning experience of getting to know about different cultures, ethnicities, and ideas. It makes me feel good that there are organizations at UT that serve my interest in making diversity reality.”
Students for Equity and Diversity will be holding MLI again in the spring of 2014.